Wednesday, January 11, 2012

HOT SAUCE SHOWDOWN.


Taking Brazos Legends' "Bull Snort Triple Trouble" Set for a Test Taste

Hot sauce, for all intents and purposes, is in my blood stream. It’s one of the few food items that I believe is completely and totally necessary to be in stock at all times in every cupboard in America, and I absolutely refuse to visit any countries where the stuff isn’t readily available to any and all visitors. Potable water is one thing, but if your country doesn’t have access to quasi-decent habanero sauce, I’d vouch for your dismissal from the U.N.

Hot sauce is an immeasurably important foodstuff for my people, and just about every other kinds of peoples on this planet. I don’t know if you’ve noticed it or not, but pretty much every ethnicity out there utilizes heavily spiced sauces as a dietary commonality. Alike rice - the most universal foodstuff we have as a species - just about everybody uses hot sauce, in some incarnation or another.

I’ve heard a lot of theories as to why this is the case, but I reckon there’s two reasons why practically every creed and tribe of people use the stuff. Number one, such comestibles act as a preservative of sorts; while not as effective as salt or vinegar, hot sauce and other hot sauce like materials can be used to as a means of masking and caking foods that are either bland or unpalatable - and, for a good 9/10ths of the planet, food that is either spoiled or in the process of rotting. If a gabelle was placed on hot sauces in any part of the world these days, there’s a pretty strong likelihood that peasant revolts would follow suit.

The second reason is something that, honestly, I’m kind of surprised hasn’t been absorbed into the stream of generalized cultural knowledge yet - the fact that ingesting large quantities of potent hot sauce sort of makes you high. There’s some sort of wacky chemistry that only Harvard bio-engineers can understand at play, but rest assured that if you imbibe an entire bottle of quality jalapeno sauce, you’re probably going to be experiencing an endorphin rush at least on par with a good three beer buzz…with quite likely the exact same “end results” from an all night-binder, too.

A few weeks ago, I was at a certain surplus outlet that shall remain nameless when I stumbled upon a novelty hot sauce gift set at an absurdly reduced price. After making sure that the three bottle set wasn’t out of date by double digits, I decided to scoop up the trio of sauces for a little take home test.



Ladies and gents, meet the Bull Snort Triple Trouble gift set.

The trio of sauces - which we will explore individually and ridiculously in-depth a little later on - are manufactured by some Houston firm called Brazos Legends, which I can only hope has something to do with the legendary Brazo Mexican wrestling family in some oblique manner. [POSTSCRIPT: Just checked the company website. It doesn’t.]

Just looking at the packaging for this stuff assures you that you’ve picked some real winners. There’s just something about this set - whether it’s the gummy residue where a former price tag was scraped off in the upper right hand corner or the fact that words “Butt” and “Hole” are displayed so prominently on the packaging - that’s like some sort of siren song that compels me to open up my wallet and start throwing green things at the nearest cash register.

As soon as I saw the stuff out of the corner of my eyes, I just knew that it was going to find its way into my refrigerator, some way, or some how.

To effectively gauge the quality of a hot sauce, you need a food that’s basic and familiar enough to the palate to ensure that the food being doused isn’t skewing the results of the sauce you’re using. For this evening’s experiment, I decided to go with El Monterrey’s Spicy Jalapeno Bean & Cheese Chimichangas…a product quite familiar to just about any starving college kid in these United States, no doubt.


I decided to go through each of the sauces individually, rating them on the following criteria: spiciness, texture and ultimately, flavor. So, how does the Brazos Legends assortment of hot sauces fare? LET THE GLUTTONY BEGIN.



HOT SAUCE #001
Texas Tongue Torch
(Three Pepper Sauce)
“One hot lick deserves another!”



As soon as I got a whiff of the bottle, I knew I’d been, at least mildly, duped. As a lifelong hot sauce enthusiast, I KNOW Louisiana style hot sauce when I smell it, and this stuff was about as Louisianan as some really insensitive and objectionable Hurricane Katrina joke that I can’t think of right now. For those of you that aren’t apt with hot sauce lingo, “Louisiana style” hot sauce is more about flavor than spiciness, and most of the time, the sauces have sort of a tangy kick to them. If you’ve ever had Texas Pete, you’ve tried a Louisiana style sauce before. Needless to say, those sorts of sauces are anything but my favorite.

I was EXTREMELY disappointed with this blend. Generally, I’m  not a fan of mixing peppers (call me a sauce segregationist, if you simply must), and this Charlie Foxtrot of a hot sauce fully demonstrates why. As a general rule, cayenne and jalapeno peppers are WAY weaker in texture and spiciness than habaneros, so when you jumble the three together, all you really end up with is a far less potent habanero sauce. This stuff, to steal a line from Nelson Muntz, was powerfully weak, hardly any spicier than Taco Bell’s already weak-ass Fire hot sauce. By the time I was finished with my nuked chimichangas, the only sensation I had going on was a mildly tingly bottom lip. . .a sensation that you really couldn’t procure from just slathering on some Blistex or something.


Sauce number one, I am afraid, is a gargantuan disappointment.

HOT SAUCE SCORE:  4 out of 10

HOT SAUCE #002
Butt-Burner
(Jalapeno Sauce)
“Hot enough to make you sit on your spurs!”



Subtlety, I suppose, is something that you really shouldn’t expect out of the hot sauce industry. The parallels between bottling jalapeno sauce and marketing gay adult films are quite numerous, I suppose - in fact, with titles like “Butt-Burner,” I guess you could even say that the product names are interchangeable.

Although the back of the bottle promises anal pain (all three of the bottles, by the way, come with warning messages that advise consumers to keep this stuff out of open cuts, in case you were wondering), this sauce was, if you can believe it, even weaker than the first one. Jalapenos, naturally, are among the weakest peppers out there, so it’s not really surprising that this sauce didn’t translate into a spicy blend all that well. However, I was shocked…shocked, I say…by how tame this stuff was. Don’t let the fact that it’s the same color as Predator blood throw you off, because this stuff doesn’t even pack a palpable lip burn. What the sauce lacked in spice, I guess it made up for in flavor and texture - it has this really nice and unique zest to it that, by and large, is really hard to pull off with a jalapeno blend - so for that reason alone, I feel secure in giving it a slightly higher score than the first sauce.


A mildly better mix, but still really, really underwhelming. Two sauces in, and we’re looking at duds in both regards.

HOT SAUCE SCORE: 5 out of 10

HOT SAUCE #003
Fire in the Hole
(Habanero Sauce)
“So hot you‘ll want to sit in the creek!”



On our last attempt, I’ve got to eat some serious crow (but not like Lance Armstrong, I presume), because as lackluster as the first two sauces were, this final blend was pretty freaking outstanding.

Habaneros score pretty high on the International Spiciness Index (and if you don’t believe me that just such a scale exists, here’s a link to its Wikipedia entry), so every time you opt for a habanero sauce, you pretty much know you’re in for at least an above average burn. The spiciness factor for this sauce was way, WAY higher than the first two, almost as if I was ingesting a product made by an entirely different company. By the time I was halfway finished with my microwaved burrito-thingy, my nostrils were clogged and sweat was beginning to seep out of my pores. Even better, I had an almost instantaneous “hot sauce high” going on before I even began my second chimichanga…and factoring in the robust taste and super smooth texture of the sauce, I just knew that I was in the presence of some apt hot sauce maestros after all.


If you see this stuff being sold individually on store shelves, I would DEFINITELY advise you to give it a try. It ain’t the world’s best, but it’s still a damned fine habanero sauce worthy of at least one test taste in your lifetime.

HOT SAUCE SCORE: 8 out of 10


As a collection, the set offered by Brazos Legends  is just mildly above average, thanks to those mediocre first two sauces. However, the habanero sauce is savory, spicy and flavorful enough to at least make you consider a purchase, although you’ll most likely end up tossing the first two after they just sit there in your fridge for about two years.

For the time being, I’m just going to kick back, do some more typing, and wallow in the afterglow of a most excellent habanero high. And for those of you really concerned about the aftermath of consuming such sauces, rest assured…

…I made it, and so will you. Probably.

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